Battle for UP: 5th phase poll crucial for BJP, Cong

Lucknow, Feb 25 (IANS) The fifth phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh will see the stakes getting higher for all major political parties.
As the electoral battle moves towards Purvanchal (eastern UP), barbs are flying fast and thick and political leaders are sharpening their attacks against each other.
The fifth phase will cover 61 Assembly constituencies from 12 districts.
The districts going to polls in this phase include Amethi, Rae Bareli, Sultanpur, Chitrakoot, Pratapgarh, Kaushambhi, Prayagraj, Barabanki, Ayodhya, Bahraich, Shravasti and Gonda.
This phase is crucial for the BJP and Congress.
In 2017, the BJP had won 47 seats while its ally Apna Dal won 3 in this region. Samajwadi Party got 5, Bahujan Samaj Party got 3, Congress 2 and one independent candidate also won.
It includes Ayodhya on which the BJP has built its political innings ever since its inception.
The BJP is again trying to cash in on the Ram temple construction which began last year.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in one of his rallies in Ayodhya, said, “Those who fired at kar sevaks could have never allowed temple construction. It is the BJP which made it possible.”
For the Congress, this phase includes Amethi and Rae Bareli where the party needs to revive itself if it wishes to survive in the state. The party had two legislators in Rae Bareli and both have crossed over to the BJP.
The Congress is keen to retain a toe-hold in Amethi and Rae Bareli that were once known as its bastions.
The political climate has changed for all parties in this phase.
The BJP is facing anti-incumbency while the BSP hopes to perform well and emerge as a king maker with this phase.
The Samajwadi Party is determined to improve its 2017 performance and is pushing itself towards its goal.
The Avadh and Purvanchal belt have been a strong turf of the BJP since 2017. The 2019 Lok Sabha results just reinforced the belief in the party when it won comprehensively in Uttar Pradesh despite the two strong caste parties, SP and BSP, coming together.
However, if the farm laws angered farmers in west UP, it is the stray cattle issue that is troubling the BJP in the fifth phase.
The destruction of crops by stray cattle has become a major issue in the elections and the opposition parties are creating a hype over it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his rally in Bahraich, said that the party will come out with a new scheme to deal with the issue. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has also promised Rs 900 to those who keep the cows.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav has said that the party, if it comes to power, will give compensation of Rs 5 lakh to those who lost their lives while protecting their fields.
Akhilesh Yadav has stitched together an alliance with smaller caste-based parties in this region and hopes that the consolidation of OBCs will help him gain in this phase.
Mayawati might not have been active in the early stages of campaigning, the party still holds the capability to play spoiler in many seats.
The BSP in many seats has turned the contest into a triangular fight by fielding Muslim candidates. It has fielded a total of 88 Muslim candidates this time.

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